PMs Modi, Abe bolster close ties with bullet train deal

New Delhi, December 12

Japan will build India’s first bullet train under a sweeping tally of pacts made following talks in New Delhi today, deepening a partnership Indian PM Narendra Modi said would ‘shape the course of Asia’.

The Indian premier spoke warmly of his friendship with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as well as pointing to the power of their political alliance, after signing deals including the $15 billion Shinkansen train.

Both Modi and Abe are right-wing nationalists and economic reformers who have forged an unusually close relationship since the Indian leader came to power last year, partly to counter China’s growing influence.

“I can’t think of a strategic partnership that can exercise a more profound influence on shaping the course of Asia and our interlinked ocean regions more than ours,” Modi said after the talks. “Our remarkable relationship also has a wonderful human touch.”

The leaders of Japan and India promised to use their alliance to push areas of mutual interest including reform of the UN Security Council, on which both are seeking permanent seats.

And they agreed a memorandum of understanding on the peaceful use of nuclear energy, which will be signed once technical details have been finalised.

The long-mooted agreement is expected to allow Japan to export nuclear plant technologies to the subcontinent.

Japan has in the past shunned civil nuclear cooperation with India, which has not ratified the international Non-Proliferation Treaty, but appears to have softened its stance.

The announcements came after Abe lavished praise on Modi’s 18-month-old premiership following a meeting with business leaders in the capital.

“Prime Minister Modi’s economic policies are like Shinkansen — high speed, safe and reliable while carrying many people along,” he said.

Later today, the pair arrived in India’s holiest city of Varanasi, which is also the premier’s parliamentary constituency, adding a note of cultural exchange after Modi visited Japan’s historic city of Kyoto last year.

Pictures showed Indian workers laying orange and yellow floral garlands to decorate the banks of the River Ganges, as police boats filled with security forces patrolled its waters ahead of the leaders’ arrival.

Other agreements signed today included stepping up the transfer of defence equipment and technology, with possible future projects including Japanese-made seaplanes.